"Memory is the treasure and guardian of all things."
— Latin Proverb

It is such a pleasure to walk through the city and be able to feast on our memories: there's the restaurant where we ate a leisurely four-hour meal; there's the theatre where we saw a performance of Tommy; and there's the park where we heard Beethoven under the stars. We can take the same trip down memory lane in our homes as we come upon gifts, mementos, and art works that are laden with meaning.

For most of us, memory is a library of stored experiences which we can easily access and savor at our own convenience. And, of course, for those in intimate relationships, memories are sacred texts that bespeak our love and experiences together. We think our memories can never be taken away — but they can. That's the crux of The Vow, a love story with insights into the key role memory plays in one couple's relationship.

"Remember what you have seen
because everything forgotten
returns to the circling winds."
— Navajo saying

Paige (Rachel McAdams) and Leo (Channing Tatum) are newlyweds who got married in the gallery of the art school where she is student. He runs a recording studio. The creative vows they each wrote for their service are indicative of the emotionally expressive nature of their life together in love. But a car accident takes that all away from them. Paige goes into a coma and when she wakes up, she doesn't know who Leo is.

Given the mysteries of brain injuries, there is no explanation given as to why Paige can't recall anything about her marriage but has no trouble identifying her father (Sam Neill) and mother (Jessica Lange) who have been estranged from her for years. Given a choice between going to stay with them or trying to see what happens with Leo, she chooses the second. Leo desperately tries to woo her back but she is very uncomfortable with everything he does — from a welcoming home party with all their friends, to trying to arouse her by tickling her, to giving her time to spend in her art studio with her sculpture pieces, to being extremely patient with her moodiness and lack of any response to his physical and soulful presence.

"Forgetfulness is exile."
— Reb Nachman of Breslov

Although we are able to empathize with Paige's exile into the land of amnesia, the suffering, loss, and isolation of Leo is far worse. Especially painful are the scenes in which he is the outsider when he visits her at home with her parents and accompanies her to a place where she chats freely about the past with old high school friends. Leo really feels at the end of his rope when he meets her former fiance (Scott Speedman) and sees how turned on she seems by him. Equally disconcerting is Paige's decision to return to law school.

Michael Sucsy directs this romantic drama which was inspired by a true story. The screenplay by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein does a good job probing the mysteries of amnesia and memory loss but is less successful in creating a finale to match what has gone before. Yet, thanks to the earnest and warm performances by Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams, we can recommend The Vow to you for its multi-leveled treatment of memory and its thought-provoking portrait of the emptiness of life without it.

Special features on the DVD include deleted scenes; a gag reel; and a commentary by director Michael Sucsy.